Episode 7B: The Goblet is Political

Welcome back, witches! We are thrilled to bring you our second (too-long) episode of Witch, Please about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In today’s episode, “The Goblet is Political,” guest host Andrea Hasenbank helps us wrap our heads around the issue of labour (domestic, craft, and pre-industrial) in the wizarding world.

We’re dealing with a lot of big, serious topics, so you may notice a slight derth of whimsical sound effects. We’re pretty optimistic that the discussions themselves will compensate for this absence.

xo

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12 thoughts on “Episode 7B: The Goblet is Political”

  1. I hate to be this girl, but you can’t really *be* an intersectional feminist. Intersectional feminism is a concept and theory created by a black woman to interpret and analyze oppression. It’s something you can attempt to practice as a white woman, but I don’t think you can be it.

    1. That’s a fair point, Kathryn. It might be more accurate to say that the feminism I value and celebrate is intersectional feminism, even if *I* cannot be an intersectional feminist because I can never disavow myself of the myriad privileges I bear as a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied person. I will certainly strive to be an ally to intersectional feminists and intersectional feminisms, and to listen when I am told that I’m appropriating movements that aren’t for me.

  2. So this was over a year ago but I recently started to listen.. Anyways, when you’re talking about a pre-industrialized work it makes sense since in most books and movies where magic exists those communities often are “stuck” in a medieval era. But I think that in Harry Potter it doesn’t really make sense because of the muggle world obviously moved passed that. And I know that wizards aren’t that fond of muggle technology and world of order but they could really have use of it sometimes. Well just something I started to think about and have no one to talk to about it haha.

  3. I am rather shocked that you describe Harry’s and Fred and George’s treatment of Dudley (in the previous podcast) as really awful bullying and fat-shaming (which it is). And yet, when a teacher first transfigures a student and then physically hurts him by bouncing him around AND humiliates him by doing it in front of a whole bunch of students and allowing them to laugh at this treatment… that’s merely hilarious? Huge fail.

    1. Our readings definitely have lots of weak points and we’re always open to constructive criticism and different perspectives. We rely on listeners to point out things we don’t notice! It’s also awesome when people do so generously. “Huge fail” is a pretty mean thing to say.

    2. I wanna jump in with more thoughts on Moody/Crouch’s pedagogy. Yes, he was an exciting teacher for Harry, but as you have done an awesome job explaining throughout the show, Harry is both unreliable and insanely privileged. We don’t know if learning accompanied by fear, pain, and definitely a pull yourself up by your bootsraps approach to fighting the Imperius curse works for all students. More importantly, demonstrations of the Unforgiveable Curses on day 1 of class NEED some sort of a content warning and we see Neville being re-traumatized in class. True, Moody/Crouch then comforts him and talks to him about herbology, but even that was in service of a plot to kill Harry and resurrect Voldemort, so…I dunno…manipulative? Finally, we know that he manages to get Fred, George, and Lee Jordan excited about learning which I admit is pretty awesome, but I’d argue that Moody/Crouch is doing this through a very masculine pedagogy- toughness, stories from law enforcement, etc. that while not as bad as other Hogwarts profs (Snape, Lockhart, Umbridge), isn’t as worthy of praise as McGonagall or Sprout’s teaching that seem more balanced

  4. Hi! I’m a recent listener, and Kate to the game, but I think the first time we have an example of magic being done in the vernacular is in the 2nd book where Ron attempts to curse Malfoy by pointing his want at him and yelling “eat slugs”! Of course Rons wand is broken and the spell backfires, but it does exactly what it says. 10 points to me..?

  5. I know this is 3 years late but I wondered if the reason that the spells are in Latin (including some new ones) is because they are formed from words which you wouldn’t use normally? So you can’t accidentally cast a spell mid speech…

  6. so I’ve just started listening to this podcast and I’ve tried not to comment too much since it’s been three years since this was posted but I have enough thoughts at this point that they’re just kind of spilling out [& some of these might be from 7A, I think I just saved everything for this one comment — thoughts on queer rep, the representation of Durmstrang/Beauxbatons, and the concept of incantations and etymology for magic]

    firstly, on coding Rita Skeeter as 1) a trans woman 2) unpleasant/unnatural/evil, I unfortunately think it’s likely that JKR would connect the two concepts even if on a subconscious level considering the amount of transphobic/TERFy things she’s either said or otherwise interacted with on twitter

    second, in terms of queer rep, I genuinely think she just forgot that’s a thing when she was writing because it doesn’t affect her so, you know, why should she care…….. then later she realised “oh wait maybe my characters should represent the plurality of the world around me” and started retconning things like Dumbledore/Grindelwald.
    on a related note, my favourite thing to come out of that is that she’s said Charlie “isn’t gay” but “prefers dragons to women” so as an ace person, as far as JKR and rep goes, I am 100% interpreting that as her draping him in a giant ace flag (although like a friend pointed out to me she’s equally likely to turn up and say no he’s actually a dragon furry)

    in terms of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, I was recently rewatching the films and tweeted something like “oh look it’s Harry Potter and the Gender Binary, manly men from Durmstrang and delicate ladies of Beauxbatons”, and someone suggested to me that they might be trying to represent the conceptions British school kids have of foreign exchange students — the way they put it was “the dichotomy of schools you hate because they’re so much more perfect than yours, and schools you hate because they’re rougher than yours” which I think is an interesting idea

    finally, on the topic of spells and incantations, as a linguist, this is one of my favourite details in the series — JKR once revealed that when she was plotting out the spells, she made a distinction between spells that were in a domestic domain and spells that were more in an ‘official’ kind of capacity, where the domestic spells (like scourgify) come from Germanic etymologies and the ‘official’ ones are from Latinate backgrounds. so by doing that she’s drawing a parallel to basically Britain after the Norman conquest when French/Latin was spreading as the official lingua franca and it was the language of business and law and education and whatnot, but people spoke basically Old English (a Germanic language) at home.

    however, considering that we later find out that non-verbal magic also exists, I think there’s a lot of merit to the idea that magic is sort of a nebulous energy that just exists in the world and wands/incantations are a tool for shaping it and making it more accessible — and I think it’s worth considering what it tells us that house elves and other creatures can do magic just by snapping their fingers, whereas witches and wizards need to use tools and words to channel it and need to practice and learn how to use it.

    I think this idea also gives a lot of support to the idea of creating your own spells, and e.g. the intense amount of work and creativity that went into creating the Marauders Map — if you’re a very competent witch or wizard, like Snape and the Marauders all are, you should be able to channel that power into doing whatever you want it to (within, like, Gump’s Elemental Laws or w/e) as long as you figure out a way to tell it what to do.

    (sorry, that turned out a lot longer than expected!)

    1. oh also not to make an already long comment even longer but in addition to non-verbal magic, I’m pretty sure Dumbledore and other intensely powerful witches and wizards are able to do wandless magic, which further lends credence to the idea that it’s already there and humans are just bad at channelling it without training and/or tools

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